Bomber offers apology for Marion siege
Neighbors near his home in Marion reacted this week to an apology from Addam Swapp, a polygamist who was convicted in the ’80s of bombing a Mormon church near Kamas. Swapp apologized for his crimes March 9 in a parole hearing in Arizona.
"People talk about it occasionally but it’s one of those things you’d like to not have to remember," Kamas Mayor Lew Marchant said in a telephone interview Friday. "It was a pretty major impact on this whole valley whether you were involved in the LDS Church not."
Swapp has served two years of a 15-year sentence for manslaughter he received for his role in the death of Lt. Fred House who was a dog handler with the Utah Department of Corrections. House was shot in a standoff that began in Marion after Swapp bombed a building belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with dynamite.
"I would never touch another gun again, even if I wasn’t a felon," Swapp told a member of the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole. "I want to pursue peace."
Though another man, South Summit resident Tim Singer, was convicted of firing the shot that killed House, Swapp led members of the family into the confrontation, according to parole board member Clark Harms.
For bombing the church Swapp served a 15-year federal sentence.
"I look at that and I think how did this happen?" Swapp asked in recent parole hearing in Arizona where he is serving his sentence to avoid conflicts in Utah.
In the hearing Harms told Swapp "the one who is ultimately responsible for Fred House’s death is you."
To provide the situation some levity, Marion residents joke that Swapp didn’t bomb but "remodeled" the Mormon church on State Road 32. But his apology wasn’t talked about much this week in Kamas.
"It’s in the past and basically done," Marion resident Rocky Lewis said. "I couldn’t even tell you what [Swapp] said."
Since the 13-day standoff at the polygamous compound in 1988 Swapp insists he intends "to pursue peace."
"If it did happen again, some similar circumstance, I would want to try to help that person that was in that situation to try to realize what they’re doing is wrong," Swapp said in his parole hearing.
Nearly 25 years after the standoff longtime Kamas residents remember that fateful day.
"They were part of the valley here for a lot of years," said Marchant about the Singers, adding that Swapp married into the family.
Swapp said he believed police unjustly killed John Singer, his father-in-law, in 1979. He said he wanted an apology.
"If they would have just said they were sorry, it would have been like throwing cold water on a fire," Swapp said at the hearing.
As a high councilman at the time in the Kamas LDS Stake, Marchant was one of the first to enter the bombed-out church.
"This was a church facility that a lot of us attended. I saw the damage that morning, and to walk in that building and see the damage, it almost overwhelms you," he said. "We all need to forgive and forget, but that was a pretty tragic thing that happened to people in this valley and I know it’s pretty difficult for some people to let it go."
With Swapp reportedly eligible for release in 2011, Marchant says he is confident the parole board will handle the prisoner correctly.
"You just can’t comprehend anybody doing something like that — regardless of the religion — to a house of worship," he added.
Upper Loop Road was closed during the standoff, Marchant said.
"During that 2-week siege I think it was just an unbelief, people just couldn’t believe that this was happening in our protected, little valley," he said, adding, "that’s not a highway that you can have that kind of activity going on without the whole valley knowing about it."
Associated Press contributed to this story.
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